Do I retire or move far away to accept a new job?

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jul. 20 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Jul. 23 2014, 3:45 PM EDT


After looking for work as an engineer for a few months, I finally have a job offer for a high-tech company across the country and I will have to relocate to take the job. Coincidentally, my wife recently lost her communications job. Now we’re both out of work. We made good money in senior level positions, but now we’re faced with both of us starting over in another province. I am 62 (and joke about who would hire a 62-year-old engineer) and my wife is 59, so we could retire, but with less money than if we both could work for a few more years.

We have a great house and pool in our current province, but also have debts that have accumulated with our daughter’s education. I am struggling with the decision but my wife is on board with moving so we don’t have to burn our retirement savings before we’re ready. Any pointers on how to accept a decision that requires you to move? And can an older worker survive in a fast-paced high-tech environment?

Sandra Safran
President of Sandra Safran HR Servies, London, Ont.

This is a difficult decision. Don’t stop looking for work in your current province before you accept the offered position. In spite of the tough job market, you might receive a good offer in your current city.

Obtain professional information on how much your house is worth and if it is saleable or rentable; what the cost of living, housing (possibly renting instead of owning) and commuting would be in your new location; and how much income you could get from your savings and pension plans.

You both should list the pros and cons of going or staying. Include personal as well as financial items, such as whether the job offer includes benefits and moving expenses. Compare lists and talk about what would make both of you the happiest. If you decide to go, focus on the fact that if you move, you can have three or more years of work until you retire, possibly back to your current province.

If you decide to stay and if you need more income to pay off debts and supplement your retirement income, each of you should prepare a job search strategy. Focus on your attributes. You have probably already demonstrated how an “older worker” can be a skilled, enthusiastic, resilient and energetic professional. If you have difficulty finding full-time work, consider part-time work, teaching, or independent consulting. Help each other to stay positive.

Bill Howatt
Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.

There are a few things running top of mind for you: angst about being discriminated against by employers because of your age, financial stability, and retirement readiness.

Professionals are staying in the work force longer because of financial concerns or to fill expertise gaps. Trained individuals like yourself with specialized training have a unique benefit that comes with age – all the valuable knowledge and skills you have acquired.

You have proven that finding employment in the high-tech industry is possible regardless of age. It may be a case of keeping up with your industry, since you are clearly employable, or having clarity on what you really want at this stage.

You are fortunate to have choices whether to continue your search to find another job closer to home or to accept the offer and move. You could rent out your house to keep your costs down, and maybe your wife would find work at your new location. Or both of you may want to make a lifestyle decision and retire. It sounds like this ultimately is a financial decision.

Before you decide, consult with your financial planner. The goal is to establish milestones so you and your wife are clear about how long you will need to work and what income you need to deal with current debt so you can maintain the standard of living you both want in retirement. This may help you decide whether it’s time now to retire or to put it off.